Cryptosporidiosis is an infection of the intestine. It can cause severe diarrhea although some may have no symptoms at all.
Most healthy adults recover from this infection in a few weeks. However, it can be life threatening for young children, the elderly, and very sick people. Cryptosporidosis can be especially difficult in those with compromised immune systems.
Cryptosporidosis is an infection caused by a parasite. The parasite enters the body by being swallowed. Once in the intestine, the parasite comes out of its shell and multiplies. You can come in contact with the parasite through:
People who are at increased risk for cryptosporidiosis infection include:
Most of the time, exposed people will not have symptoms. Symptoms that do occur usually begin about a week after the infection and may include:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. You will be asked for one or more stool samples. The samples will be sent to a lab to look for the parasite.
Most of the time your body will get rid of this infection on its own. People with healthy immune systems usually recover without needing treatment. People with a weakened immune system, like those with AIDS, have a greater risk of getting this infection. The infection is also more likely to be more severe and last longer.
Recovery can take several weeks. If you have severe diarrhea, you may be given:
There are several important measures you can take to lower your risk of getting cryptosporidiosis:
If you are infected with cryptosporidiosis, avoid spreading the infection to others by:
American Medical Association
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Canadian HIV/AIDS Information Centre
Cryptosporidiosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated April 20, 2013. Accessed May 16, 2013.
Cryptosporidiosis. New York Department of Health website. Available at: http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/cryptosporidiosis/fact_sheet.htm. Updated October 2011. Accessed May 16, 2013.
Cryptosporidium infection. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/crypto/. Updated January 16, 2013. Accessed May 16, 2013.
Last reviewed June 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.